Development of an intense winter storm off the US East Coast

February 8th, 2013
POES AVHRR 0.86 µm, MODIS 0.65 µm, and Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel images

POES AVHRR 0.86 µm, MODIS 0.65 µm, and Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel images

A winter storm began to intensify just off the East Coast of the US on 08 February 2013. A sequence of 1-km resolution POES AVHRR 0.86 µm, MODIS 0.65 µm, and Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel images (above) revealed the formation of gravity waves in the lower-tropospheric cloud field within the southwest quadrant of the area of low pressure (corresponding IR images).

GOES-13 4-km resolution 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (below; click image to play animation) showed a very well-defined dry slot and the development of a distinct comma head. Strong northwesterly winds were also causing mountain waves to the lee of the Appalachians.

GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click image to play animation)

GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click image to play animation)

The MIMIC Total Precipitable Water (TPW) product (below; click image to play animation) showed TPW values as high as 48 mm or 1.9 inches being drawn northward into the intensifying low.

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product (click image to play animation)

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product (click image to play animation)

Similarly, the Blended Total Precipitable Water product (below; click image to play animation) also showed high values of TPW (up to 36 mm or 1.4 inches) off the Virginia/North Carolina coast as the low was intensifying.

Blended Total Precipitable Water product (click image to play animation)

Blended Total Precipitable Water product (click image to play animation)

These TPW values were in excess of 200% of normal for this region and this time of year (below; click image to play animation).

Percent of Normal TPW product (click image to play animation)

Percent of Normal TPW product (click image to play animation)

A MODIS 11.0 µm IR image at 03:04 UTC on 09 February (10:04 PM local time on 08 February) revealed a distinct hook-shaped pattern to the cloud features near the storm center as it continued to intensify (below). Peak wind gusts at this time were 58 knots at Nantucket and 54 knots at Boston.

MODIS 11.0 µm IR image with overlays of surface/buoy resports and surface analysis

MODIS 11.0 µm IR image with overlays of surface/buoy resports and surface analysis

===== 09 February Update =====

MODIS 0.65 µm visible image with surface/buoy reports and surface analysis

MODIS 0.65 µm visible image with surface/buoy reports and surface analysis

As the storm was nearing peak intensity on the morning of 09 February 2013, the formation of a tight circulation around its center was becoming evident in 1-km resolution visible channel images with overlays of surface data from MODIS at 15:06 UTC (above) and VIIRS at 17:01 UTC (below).

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible image with surface/buoy reports

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible image with surface/buoy reports

A 250-meter resolution MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image from the SSEC MODIS Today site (below; displayed using Google Earth) showed the locations of maximum snowfall totals for select states (which included 40.0 inches at Hamden, Connecticut), as well as some of the maximum wind gusts (which included 83 mph at Cuttyhunk, Massachusetts).

MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image with maximum storm total snowfall amounts and peak wind gusts

MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image with maximum storm total snowfall amounts and peak wind gusts

GOES-13 Water Vapor imagery, displayed in a 2-day loop below, captures many interesting aspects of this potent storm.

GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click image to play animation)

GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click image to play animation)